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Ambrose Marechal Edit Profile

archbishop , Catholic priest

Ambrose Maréchal, S.S. was a French-born Sulpician and prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the third Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland, in the United States.


Maréchal was born at Ingré in the former Province of Orléanais in the Kingdom of France on August 28, 1764 of fairly prosperous parents.


He studied for the legal profession, but later entered the Sulpician seminary at Orléans, where he received the tonsure towards the close of 1787.


France was in such a chaotic condition that he left Paris for Bordeaux, where he was ordained in 1792. On the day of his ordination, and at the risk of his life, accompanied by the Abbés Richard, Martignon and Cicquard he sailed for America and arrived at Baltimore on June 24, 1792 where he offered his first Mass.\r\n Maréchal was sent on the mission in St. Mary's County, and later to Bohemia on the eastern shore of Maryland. In 1799 he was teaching theology at the Sulpician's St. Mary's Seminary, in Baltimore, and in 1801 he was on the staff of Georgetown College.

Civil government having been restored in France under Napoleon, in 1803 Maréchal was recalled to France by his superiors to teach at Saint-Flour, Lyon, Aix and Marseilles. In 1812 he was again assigned to teach at St. Mary's. His pupils at Marseilles presented him with the marble altar which now stands in the Baltimore Basilica, and King Louis XVIII demonstrated his regard by presenting him with several paintings, which also remain in that Basilica.

In 1816 he was nominated Bishop of Philadelphia, but at his request the nomination was withdrawn and, on July 24, 1817, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop to Archbishop Francis Neale of Baltimore, and Titular of Stauropolis. The brief of the appointment had not reached Baltimore when Archbishop Neale died, and Maréchal was not consecrated Archbishop of Baltimore by Bishop Cheverus of Boston until December 14, 1817. Maréchal soon had to face serious dissensions over the claim by the laity to a voice in the appointment of clergy.

He induced his flock to yield, and established the right of the ordinary to make all such appointments. The building of the Baltimore Basilica, the first Catholic Cathedral built in the United States, which had been begun under Archbishop John Carroll in 1806, was now resumed and completed and was dedicated to the service of God on May 31, 1821, under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also in 1821, Maréchal went to Rome on business of his diocese, and in connection with the White Marsh plantation which the Archbishop claimed as Diocesan property, but which had been devised to the Jesuits on February 17, 1728, and was claimed by them as property of the Society to be employed in the interests of the Church of Maryland.

The archbishop secured from Rome a Bull in his favour. In 1826 Maréchal made a journey to Canada, and on his return fell ill. He died January 29, 1828 in Baltimore.

His coadjutor, James Whitfield, who succeeded him as Archbishop of Baltimore, had not yet been consecrated when Maréchal died.